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Apothecary Recipe: Fire Cider



This spicy tonic is a powerful ally in your herbal apothecary. It’s packed with immune boosting herbs infused into apple cider vinegar and sweetened with raw honey. Natures medicine at its best!

What is fire cider? Fire Cider is a blend of herbs infused in apple cider vinegar and honey used for its health-enhancing properties. The term 'Fire Cider' was coined by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970s. It has been reproduced, adapted, used and sold by thousands of herbalists over the past forty years. Traditional fire cider is apple cider vinegar infused with warming herbs like horseradish, garlic, onion, ginger, and hot chili peppers, among other things. I make a large batch of it every Autumn, to have on hand when cold and flu season hits. I could not imagine living without it! It’s warming, sweet, spicy, complex, and delicious.

What is in fire cider? Fire cider combines hot, sweet, pungent, and sour tastes into one drink. The original recipe by Rosemary Gladstar requires:

  • fresh garlic

  • fresh ginger

  • horseradish

  • onions

  • cayenne pepper

It instructs you to infuse these ingredients in apple cider vinegar for 4 to 6 weeks, and add honey to sweeten before drinking. Rosemary also suggests adding other plants to enhance flavor and target more health ailments. Examples include:

  • turmeric

  • rosehip

  • jalapenos

  • lemon

  • orange


Fire Cider Recipe Fire cider is fun to make! You get to use your creativity and adapt the recipe by using what’s available to you seasonally and locally. I also like to add veg, herbs, and fruit from my garden, and wildgathered ingredients such as wild garlic, ground elder, various wild herbs, rosehips, crabapples, and elderberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 horseradish root, 7 inches long

  • 1/2 large ginger root

  • 1 fresh turmeric root, 4 inches long

  • 4 hot peppers (I used Fresno peppers, but cayenne, serrano, or jalapeño are all good choices)

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1 head of garlic

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 orange

  • 2 slices dried reishi mushroom

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • Fresh herbs from the garden (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage)

  • Handful of dried elderberries (optional, gives fire cider a cranberry color)

  • Apple cider vinegar to cover herbs

  • Raw honey (this will be added at the end after infusing for 4 weeks)

Tools:


  • Large glass jar to infuse fire cider in (I used two 1 L weck jars)

  • Food processor to chop ingredients, or knife and cutting board and hand grater

Directions:


  1. Grate or chop the horseradish root, ginger, and turmeric. A food processor makes this process easier.

  2. Chop the pepper, onion, garlic, lemon, and orange. I add the citrus peels for good measure.

  3. Place herbs into a large glass jar, and add cinnamon sticks, mushroom slices, fresh herbs.

  4. Pour apple cider vinegar to completely cover herbs.

  5. Place lid on jar, and set aside to infuse for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake the jar occasionally and make the ingredients stay submerged under the vinegar. Add more vinegar if needed.

  6. Once done, strain the herbs. Into a bowl, using a fine mesh strainer.

  7. After straining, add honey to taste. A good starting point is 1/4 cup honey per quart of fire cider. I pour the fire cider into a half gallon jar, and then close the lid and shake until the honey is mixed in.

Then, use a funnel and decant the fire cider into clean bottles for storage. I like to use 8 oz. or 16 oz. flip top bottles for easy pouring and to give as gifts. Store fire cider in the fridge, and use 1-2 tablespoons as needed.


Note: If using a mason jar, the metal lid will corrode from the vinegar. Even with parchment paper under the lid, it still corrodes over time.

How to use fire cider: Fire cider can be taken straight as a shot, to get your blood flowing on a cold winter day. There’s nothing like a shot of fire cider to sooth a sore throat. It basically cures it right on the spot for me! However, fire cider is quite acidic, being vinegar, so if you are concerned about your tooth enamel, it might be best to dilute it. It’s also delicious as a marinade or salad dressing!

Here’s a few serving suggestions:

  • Straight up: Rosemary Gladstar recommends taking 1-2 tablespoons at the first sign of a cold, then repeating every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside. Some people take fire cider as a preventative during cold and flu season.

  • Mix in tea, with extra honey and ginger

  • Add to drinks and cocktails

  • Use in place of vinegar in recipes such as salad dressing and sauces

  • Drizzle on sautéed vegetables

  • Use in marinades for tofu, meat, mushrooms, and tempeh

  • Add to soups and chilis for a flavor boost


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